The second of the our reservations at two of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants was the #4 ranked restaurant Central Restaurant located smack in the middle of Miraflores (about half a mile from the apartment we were staying in). We opted to do a lunch reservation and brought along the newly engaged couple (C’s sister and her fiance) – it’s more fun to share with more people! The menu titled “Mater Ecosystems” provided each course with ingredients found at various altitudes.
We started with cocktails – although wine or juice pairings were also an option (we didn’t notice the juice pairing until well into the meal – whomp, whomp – it would have been fantastic). While I can’t recall the exactly, but I think what I ordered was the Pisco Torontel · Aperol · Elderflower Tonic.
Valley of the Tree 230M (Avocado, Panca Chili Pepper, Paico) The second course came with avocado in three forms, the first beings fresh chunks of avocado covered in Panca chili pepper. The next being a piece of crunchy brown bread with avocado mousse and edible flowers (beauty through adversity). And lastly an avocado puree covered with petals on a softer sponge.
High Jungle 860M (Yucan, Baston, Bark) This course was not necessarily my favorite. It’s wasn’t bad or not tasteful but maybe seemed that they had been cold too long – almost with a frozen interior (which lent nothing to being able to taste the flavor). It’s always great to try new vegetables, but I was hoping for more with this.
River Scales 180M (River Snails, Gamitana, Sangre di Grado) As the name says, this course was river snails – not something I would have picked out on my own likely, but the snails were sliced very thin and arranged on thin crisp (which did get stuck in my teeth), so the flavor was mild and relatively enjoyable for being my first time eating river snail.
Andean Plateau 3900M (Tunta, Annato, Coca) This was the bread course – a dense corn type bread, a thin bubbly crisp, and bread cooked/smoked in coca leaves (not pictured). Two spreads – a browned butter and a tomato salsa/condensed puree?
Marine Soil -21M (Clams, Sweet Cucumber, Lime) Despite my general dislike of clams and mussels, I really enjoyed this dish. The clams were thinly slices with a great citrusy sauce and covered with seas cucumbers. Yes, sea cucumbers and they were probably the best part about this (sweet and crispy, delicious).
Extreme Stem 2875M (Oca, Mashwa, Elderberry) Another fantastic course – basically the potato or root vegetable dish. Thin starch paper, translucent potatoes, and then potato bites I think look like olives – all with an elderberry sauce that I could drink plain if that was acceptable.
This is what the potatoes look like when whole – Peru has over 300 varieties of potatoes. Being raised on potatoes in Minnesota, I would love this type of variety.
Close Fishing -10M (Octopus, Coral, Barquillo) I know I’ve been saying that almost every course was a really good course, but this was probably my favorite. Grilled octopus, or just octopus in general, is not something I never thought I’d say I like – especially since I’ve tried it more than a few times and could never get over that rubbery texture. Well this octopus was incredible tender and easy to eat (the roasting smell wafted through the restaurant throughout our meal – I probably drooled every time). The coral was made from egg white and also set with a crispy corn chip (?). And once again the sauce was amazing and I can’t find a way to describe it other than that – amazing.
Let’s try and get as close to the sauce as I can, because maybe that will help me smell it again. Seriously though, someone needs to invent a way to trigger smell recall in our brain (or capture it in a camera like device for posterity).
Low Andes Mountain 1800M (Quinoas, Beef, Airampo) Now clearly the photo above is not beef because I opted for the vegetarian option for this. Lime cream (or was it quinoa milk), balls of goodness (black quinoa?), green and blue powders (blue-green algae?)- I actually had no idea what I was eating but it was damn good and incredibly rich. Although after some other research into their vegetarian menu I think it might be the Altiplano and Lake (Black Quinoa and Lime Cream) or Psuedocereal (Andean grains, ciagua, chili pepper, airampo).
I snagged a picture of C’s beef dish – also set in quinoa with shaved beef heart – yep. And apparently it was tasty. All three other dinners thought it was potentially their best course. The airampo gives some of that bright red color.
Green Highlands 1050M (Lucuma, Cacao, Chaco Clay) Now for the first of the desserts – a chocolate ice cream with lucuma cookie (but not quite a cookie – crisp?), and white chocolate with clay curls. Seriously freaking good.
Valley Between the Andes 2190M (Roots, Sanki, Sacha Inchi) Our last dessert course included a camomile type gelatin square and what we thought were chocolate candies.
Well, the thin chips were chocolate but the others had a gel texture with a liquid center. Still good.
Solar Mucilage 200M (O.I. Water, Theobromas) Our last course and palate cleanser (at least for me) was basically sun water. I thoroughly enjoyed the slightly sweet, acidic, salty, beverage while it wasn’t really anyone else’s favorite (more for me!). I never knew water could taste like that but is was weirdly addicting.
All in all we had a fantastic experience – which is exactly how I view these types of restaurants. You come for the food and are slapped in the face by the experience. The only thing I might change is to ask for a better lighting table next time. (…My eyebrows completely disappeared in the photo above because of the lighting – and it was a constant battle to not get shadows over my food pictures.)
Dream trip, dream food.